Open innovation is when a company works in conjunction with an external group by opening up their business practices and data to create new solutions to business issues.
In 2021, the Helsinki Region was designated as a European Entrepreneurial Region (EER) and with this, Metropolia University of Applied Sciences took the opportunity to redesign one of their open innovation programmes to make it accessible by Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs). I came on board this project as a service design expert for two reasons, one to design the project according to service design methods, and two to provide the content expertise on the subjects – service design and the design sprint.
Facilitating open innovations in various forms
At Metropolia, one open innovation programme, 10 Days 100 Challenges (10D100C), has been running since 2018. The first three years of the 10 Days 100 Challenges event was designed as 10 full days with the learnings embedded in each day as the sprint progressed. The delivery of the event changed in 2020. It was transferred online, due to the Covid pandemic, and it was unfortunately canceled in 2021 at the last minute due to the same reason.
The European Entrepreneurship Region designation gave the opportunity for a re-think for the 2022 version of 10 Days 100 Challenges programme. It was decided that Small and Medium-sized Enterprises would benefit from the content that was taught during the event, but we understood that many would not be able to fully participate in the full 10-day event.
In order to make 10D100C programme accessible to the small and medium-sized companies, the teaching content was taken out of the event and made into an online course. By extracting the learnings, it makes them available to anyone who wants to learn about service design and improve their business development skills. This is why it has been built as a Massive Online Open Course (MOOC).
Creating a course everyone can access
A MOOC is a type of course that is created especially to be accessed by anyone who wishes to take it. That is the Massive and the Open part. Inevitably, to make it accessible to as many people as possible, it is also Online.
In this course, we have made it accessible at any time, meaning that there are no start dates or end dates. Participants do it at their own pace, starting and ending when they want. This type of course also requires the participant to be persistent and to finish under their own direction. This can be hard for some, but perseverance pays off with a new understanding of how to tackle business problems in a different way.
The development of the fully accessible course
The first part of creating this course was interviewing the leaders of SMEs. We focused primarily on companies with 5-20 employees but also interviewed slightly larger company representatives and other stakeholders. This research was to find out how much people know about service design and the design sprint methodology.
After the interviews, the first version of the course was created. It was from this Alpha version that we got internal feedback based on the content. From the feedback, there were some additions made to the content and further explanations made where it was necessary.
The Beta version of the content was tested in conjunction with the 2022 10 Days 100 Challenges event that took place May 30th to June 7th. The course was set as a prerequisite to attend the event. To make sure that everyone attending had a similar foundation of understanding in these methods.
The final version has been further developed on the feedback of the students who participated in the event. It has also been designed on the University of Helsinki MOOC Center’s platform. It will be officially launched and be open for anyone to take in April 2023.
Companies participating in the course
This course has been developed in a way that it is text-based, self-directed, and self-paced. This means that it there are no videos and one reason for this is that it is easy to update and respond to feedback. It is self-directed and self-paced because there is a deep understanding that those who are involved in small businesses or are entrepreneurs are very busy people.
The local small and medium-sized companies are also the least likely to have the time and money to take traditional professional development or human resources (HR) departments, which would organise training.
Pamela Spokes works as a Service Designer in Metropolia’s RDI team. Originally from Canada, Pamela has years of experience in university admin focusing on international recruitment, marketing, and the international student/staff experience. With a Bachelor’s from Canada, a Master’s degree from Sweden, an MBA in Service Innovation & Design from Laurea, and her AmO from Haaga-Helia, she is interested in purposefully designed experiences that are centred around the user. Don’t be surprised if she knocks on your door to talk about learning co-creation methods through intensive learning experiences.Pamela Spokes